The 2022 college wrestling national championships are over … but the great...
Finesilvers are a gem of a family; Happy Holidays from WIN
Photo: Now grown up, the Finesilver siblings from Greenwood Village, Colo. — from left Josh, Felicia, Mary, Matt, Mitch, Rebecca and Zach — had a chance to all be together last year when Duke wrestled at Northern Colorado.
“Fine silver is defined by its purity. Any silver used for investment or trade on metal and commodities exchanges must be 99.9 percent pure, or .999, sometimes referred to as “three nines fine.” Although highly lustrous, fine silver is too malleable and weak for everyday jewelry.”
By Mike Finn
There are plenty of wrestling families and then there is the Finesilver family, whose gem-like surname more than fits the above definition.
The only differences is that one might call them “nine times fine” — considering there are nine family members from Greenwood Village, Colo. — and they certainly are not weak, especially the four sons, who all wrestle for Duke and made NCAA history a year ago when they all qualified for the NCAAs in Cleveland.
And all four return this season in hopes of at least duplicating that feat in Pittsburgh; from the two seniors — Mitch and Zach, who wrestle at 149 and 165 pounds — and their two sophomore brothers: Josh and Matt, who compete at 141 and 174 pounds.
And while none of the four have earned All-American honors for the Blue Devils, they certainly have made an impact on many in their lives, whether it was growing up in the Denver suburb or in Durham, N.C., where their very presence more than motivates their teammates.
“It’s super to have them on the team,” said Duke coach Glen Lanham. “When they first came in, I told them to be careful because they were always going to have the numbers.”
Dealing with large numbers is something these siblings have done their entire lives; starting the day each was born. For the group of four boys are made up as a pair of fraternal twins: Mitch and Zach were born on March 20, 1996 (Zach is older by two minutes) and Josh is a bit younger than Matt, who were both born on April 15, 1998.
“We literally dropped off our taxes at the post office that day as we headed to the hospital,” laughed their mother Brenda, whose delivery of your youngest went a lot better than it did with Mitch and Zach when she was forced to bed-rest the final four months of the pregnancy. “We live in a two-story home and I was known as the lady upstairs.”
But she and her husband were a lot more than that.
Steve Finesilver, whose father Sherman Finesilver was a federal judge appointed by President Richard Nixon, coached wrestling but built up a bigger reputation as a high school teacher and football coach at George Washington High School in Denver.
“GW was an inner-city school and we attended most of his games,” recalled Mitch, who with his brothers attended Cherry Creek High School. “We learned a lot about diversity and it was interesting to see things from a coach’s perspective, even in a different sport. It’s fostered greater appreciation for our coaches.”
And for the next four years, the Finesilvers added the boys.
“It just happened,” said Brenda, who did have twins in her family on her mom’s side. “God said, ‘Here you go.’ ”
Brenda recalled doing at least seven loads of laundry a day while the kids were growing up. The boys remember even more, including the gigantic Thanksgiving meals that included at least 30 people, including young people who played football for their father. (And once the boys started wrestling in high school and were forced to cut weight, Brenda also planned a similar Thanksgiving meal in June).
“Growing up, we had a ton of crazy stories,” Mitch said. “We could almost be a reality TV show. Our parents gave us unrelenting support our entire lives. It’s been amazing because it’s allowed us to chase our dreams. We know that we always have their support.
“They kept us morally on track. I’m so blessed.”
And there was plenty of roughhousing among all the kids.
“Our sisters used to beat the crap out of us and kept us in line … until we got big enough to defend ourselves,” laughed Mitch.
And up until the oldest boys were in middle school, the foursome also shared one bedroom that held a pair of bunk beds and plenty of holes in the walls.
“There was a lot of jumping around between the beds. It was madness,” said Matt, who added he preferred to sleep in the top bunk. “It was good to have the high ground because there were nightly brawls. And it was a nightly occurrence where my dad would have to come in and tell us to settle down from all the roughhousing.
“He would get upset but knew that we were typical boys, especially with four of us in one room.”
“My highlight reel that goes through my mind was the number of times we broke the drywall,” said Zach.
Brenda recalls those battles go back to when just the first set of twins were alive.
“When (Zach and Mitch) were babies in their separate cribs and in a room next to us, we’d hear Zach and wonder what’s going on,” Brenda said. “What I did was lay underneath one of their cribs to see what was happening. It was before there were cameras. What I saw was that Mitch would crawl into Zach’s crib and would beat the heck out of him.”
Eventually, Steve and Brenda got all four boys involved in wrestling the same time when Mitch and Zach were six and the other two were four years old.
“We all started playing football together, but once it was over, we felt like we needed something else to do,” Zach said.
“My parents saw that we were running all over the house breaking things. We need to do something to get them involved with something. Let’s trying wrestling.”
And at first, the local club wrestling room was an extension of their home.
“There was frustration in the wrestling room,” Zach said. “Whenever we’d wrestle when we were little, we’d get so mad at each other. I’m sure it’s like that for every twin, but for us it was pretty bad.”
But eventually, the Finesilver boys learned how to balance their relationships with each other, something that they continue today in Durham, where Mitch and Zach share an apartment and Josh and Matt live together in a dorm. But they eventually find time to spend together.
“It’s pretty standard,” Josh said. “We go and work out, but we’re always fighting all the time, but then we will just sit down and watch a movie together. There is a wide range of emotions. At one point, we are mad. The next moment we will be happy and hanging out together.”
Brenda believes there is a bond between her sons, especially with their twins; something she learned about when they first went to school and teachers separated them.
“When they were in first grade, there was a set time when they would go to the bathroom,” Brenda said. “There they would say to each other, ‘I love you brother. I love you brother.’ Then they would go off to their separate classrooms.
“They would do that just to know the other was there.”
Once the boys got to high school, they eventually learned that wrestling was their sport and eventually earned postseason honors. Mitch was a two-time state champion. Zach won a state title as a senior in 2014. Matt won a championship as a junior and Josh finished as high as second as a senior.
Mitch and Zach first caught the interest of Duke coaches and the rest is history, including how Matt and Josh followed them there.
“At the time Mitch and Zach committed, their dad said, ‘I have another set of twins and they are ninth graders,’ ” recalled Lanham. “We got right on those guys when you have a family like that.
“Their dad was a legendary coach in Colorado, but he never tries to offer coaching advice. When we pulled the redshirt off Mitch, I called his dad and asked him what he thought. He said, ‘You’re the coach. You tell me what’s good and I will go with it.’ ”
Of course time is running out on having the quartet together at Duke. There is no telling what could happen, especially from Mitch and Matt, who are nationally ranked after placing at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational on Dec. 1.
“I always care about my brothers’ success and I’d go with them winning the whole thing over me becoming an All-American,” said Josh, who earned an at-large berth in the 2018 NCAAs.
But winning is still important to all four.
“If I were the only one of the brothers to qualify and win the tournament, my brothers would be proud of me,” Zach said. “I would feel the same way about it if it happened to one of my brothers.”
In terms of a legacy, Mitch would like them to be remembered as this:
“Four kids who worked hard and chased a dream.”